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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: New hero announced

Today a new hero option was announced for Blizzard's MOBA Heroes of the Storm: Rehgar Earthfury. I'm not surprised that Blizzard is giving us a shaman hero--after all, shaman are an iconic group in WoW lore and gameplay--but I am surprised that they've chosen Reghar as the shaman's representative. Compared to more well-known shaman in WoW such as Thrall, Rehgar tends to fly under the radar. He does, however, have his own history and tale to tell. Rehgar is one of the older generation of orcs and was born on Draenor. When Thrall came to power he eventually served as one of his advisors but before that Rehgar was a slave master who owned a particularly infamous gladiator: Varian Wrynn.

Rehgar is a support character who posseses an ability set that goes along with his shaman class: he can turn into a spirit wolf, drop totems, and call upon the elements to aid him in battle. He seems to use a fist weapon for his basic physical attack, and I'm certain he'll have a range of fun shaman specialist attacks to go along with that. Frost Shock had better be on the cards! I'll also be interested to see what additional skins he gets--maybe a Thrall makeover, complete with epic braids?

The announcement of Reghar as a hero makes me very sad that Varian isn't a playable hero option. If you've been playing the alpha or watching streams, you may have noticed that heroes with lore connections in their respective franchises often have more personalized banter when they interact on the battlefield. I would love to see what Rehgar and Varian have to say to each other, but it doesn't seem to be on the cards just yet. Here's hoping for the future!

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm previews Master Skins

The Heroes of the Storm team has been busy today, previewing both a new map and, just recently, Master Skins. Originally, Master Skins were unveiled at PAX East as a reward for individuals dedicated to playing specific heroes. Heroes of the Storm boasts a number of dramatic and even comical skins, but Master Skins function a bit differently. They're essentially evolutions of the original skins, with characters showing unique additions to their visuals, such as horns, additional props, et cetera.

The video above shows off Master Skins for characters from the Warcraft universe including Arthas, Falstad, Li Li, and Stitches. They're all unique in their own right, but just how badass does Falstad look with his mohawk? Hopefully future videos will show us what we can expect from the Diablo and StarCraft universes as Master Skins go.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: New battleground revealed

Heroes of the Storm Heroes
The Heroes of the Storm official site has released a new interview with Senior Technical Designer Meng Song all about the game's new battleground map: the Garden of Terror. The Garden is a three-lane map that cycles between daytime and nighttime, with corresponding changes to both lighting and map features. During the day, there are the usual mercenary camps for players to capture, but they disappear when night falls, and instead night horrors will appear in the garden sections of the map. The night sequence ends when all night horrors are killed.

In addition, players can gather seeds by killing certain mobs scattered around the map. Once 100 seeds have been collected, players can summon a Garden Terror in their base. Much like the Dragon Shire map, the player that summons the Garden Terror becomes it, granting you two powerful abilities: Plant Horror Overgrowth, which disables and damages enemy buildings, and Spore Queen's Curse, which turns your enemies into piddling little Plant Zombies.

It's great to see a new map being added to Heroes for some extra variety. I'm really interested to see how the day/night cycle works out in gameplay, particularly because the transition is player-controlled. I'm sure there will be a variety of strategies for when and why to try and shift the map into night, and for how long to leave it there. Mostly, it will just be nice to have another possible option on the battleground roulette wheel.

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

Building the Nexus: The voice of Gazlowe

The official Heroes of the Storm Youtube account highlighted a familiar voice earlier this week in its Building the Nexus segments. Travis Willingham is a man of many voices, having lent his pipes to an incredibly diverse list of characters in anime, animation, and video games alike. In Heroes of the Storm, he takes a different direction from the usual heroic-voiced roles and takes on Gazlowe, a goblin that WoW players should be plenty familiar with. The NPC was the Chief Engineer of the Horde back when Orgrimmar was being built after the Third War, but later moved to Ratchet, where he stays today. Affiliated with the Steamwheedle Cartel, Gazlowe now hands out quests to Alliance and Horde alike. He's also one of the few goblin NPCs in the game with unique voice files.

In Heroes of the Storm, Gazlowe charges into battle armed with a load of mechanics and explosives strapped to his back, and a volley of well-placed quips to hurl at opponents. The latest edition of Building the Nexus features Community Manager Josh "Rokcet" Rester-Zodrow having a chat with Willingham about the game and the unique challenges of bringing a character like Gazlowe to life. We don't usually see a lot of voice actor highlights, so this is a pretty cool behind the scenes -- I'd love to see some of these done for Warcraft as well. Take a look at the video above, and if you like it, be sure to check out the rest of what the Heroes Youtube channel has to offer.

Filed under: News items, Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm alpha patch notes


A huge patch for Heroes of the Storm has dropped today. In fact, it's so big that you'll need to uninstall your current Heroes and reinstall the game completely. You might find this odd, but in a alpha test, anything is game (and remember this is still an alpha test).

There are an absolute ton of UI and character changes. It's clear that Blizzard is working hard behind the scenes to make this game as friendly and competitive as possible. There really isn't a stone that they don't turn over and do something with.

You can find the complete patch notes after the break, and look at the hero changes over on Blizzard's site.

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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

The complexity of Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm official art
Ten years ago, players told Blizzard that WoW was too simple compared to past MMOs like Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Asheron's Call. More recently, many (including me at one point) said the same about Hearthstone -- that too much complexity had been removed from the genre compared to games like Magic: The Gathering. Today, Polygon posted an interview with Heroes of the Storm game director Dustin Browder. His message: HOTS isn't "DOTA for babies."

"If you come looking for complexity in exactly the same places," Browder said, "you will be disappointed. If you come looking for complexity wherever it may be, I think you're going to be surprised and have a great time."

Blizzard has stripped away many MOBA hallmarks, such as the item store. Browder says that other features make up for this loss of complexity. Talent selection is crucial. Map-specific objectives also play a huge role in determining the course of the battle and require careful strategy to accomplish.

In a video included with the story, Polygon's "MOBA expert" Emily Gera had some further comments on the game: "The masses don't want to play big, scary MOBA games... Blizzard is trying to create a game that has less of a barrier to entry and bypass the classic issue of MOBA games -- that MOBA games are full of jerks... There's a lot of infighting. In HOTS, everyone on the team is in it together."

What do you think? Is HOTS dumbing down the genre too much, or are these the changes the genre needs?

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: New hero Murky and other changes coming soon

The Heroes of the Storm team held their fifth Developer Q&A on Twitch.tv today. The developers discussed sweeping future changes coming to the game's alpha including a complete overhaul of the game's UI. Other major additions and changes include:
  • New hero Murky. This week is Murky Week, so a great deal of information about him is on the horizon.
  • Many heroes will be receiving a talent overhaul based on data collected on talent usage. Not only talents chosen most often across the board, but talents chosen most often in winning and losing games.
  • Arthas, Illidan, and Tyrael are receiving complete redesigns and are unlikely to be the only ones. Their current iteration doesn't fit the vision of the hero and were early designs, too bland/generic to be such iconic characters. Players tend to consider these three underwhelming at best.
  • Personal achievements are being added so you can better gauge your personal performance in-game. Currently, in-game achievements only display team efforts.
In addition, themed maps from all of Blizzard's IPs will be coming eventually. The current Haunted Mines is being reworked. So, too, is the Cursed Hollow, which has a tendency to snowball in favor of who gets the first round of idols.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm bans on the way

The brawler/battle arena genre seems to attract an inordinate amount of poor behavior, perhaps a result of the highly-competitive environment. Heroes of the Storm isn't an exception, even in the game's alpha phase. Fortunately, Blizzard isn't willing to let such behavior slide. According to a post made by Community Manager Vaeflare, players "who have been found to be repeatedly AFKing, leaving games, or determined to be toxic" will be banned from Heroes of the Storm.

While AFKing through matches is bad enough as it is, we find it particularly absurd that some players are choosing to AFK in a game's alpha, where participation means testing the game's mechanics. The only thing you're testing by going AFK is how quickly Blizzard will remove you from participation.

Vaeflare's full post can be found below or on Battle.net.

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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

New Heroes of the Storm trailer for Li Li

Heroes of the Storm has just released a new trailer for this week's featured hero: Li Li Stormstout. You can read all about her history and her moves in the latest Heroes spotlight. Li Li is the niece of the legendary Chen Stormstout, a powerful martial artist in her own right and an avid explorer. In fact, Explorer Li Li is one of her skins--complete with bug net and pith hat.

Li Li's starting abilities are Healing Brew (heals allies), Cloud Serpent (summons a dragon to aid allies), and Blinding Wind (blinds enemies and blocks their auto attacks), and her Combat Trait is Fast Feet, which gains her movement speed after being struck by an enemy Hero. Judging by her abilities, Li Li seems like an interesting support character who may have a few good tricks up her sleeve. This week is her test week, so if you have access to the Heroes alpha, give her a whirl and see how she goes!

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm heads to Southeast Asia

We already knew Heroes of the Storm was heading to China, but now Blizzard has inked a deal to bring Heroes -- and possibly other games -- to more of Southeast Asia. Expanding on Blizzard's existing agreement with Asiasoft -- which currently distributes Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, and World of Warcraft in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore -- the deal now includes Heroes of the Storm and features distribution to the Philippines as well. Marketing and operation for the game in the Philippines will be handled by Asiasoft subsidiary Level Up! Inc.

No launch date has been set for Heroes of the Storm -- currently in technical alpha -- domestically or internationally, but we assume it will arrive on the traditional Blizzard schedule of "when it's ready."

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm heading to China

Blizzard has a troubled history with releases in China, but that isn't stopping them from bringing Heroes of the Storm to Chinese shores in partnership with NetEase. Currently, NetEase operates three Blizzard titles in China -- World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Hearthstone -- as well as Battle.net services. Heroes will face stiff competition from already established MOBA titles like League of Legends, but the popularity of Blizzard characters and properties on Chinese shores definitely suggests the game has star potential.

Heroes is currently in technical alpha, and the announcement gives no hint of a release date, domestic or international. But while waiting for release, interested parties can visit Heroes of the Storm's Chinese website for more info or sign up for the beta on Battle.net.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm technical alpha patch notes

Heroes of the Storm's technical alpha has been down for extended maintenance today for its first significant patch since the alpha began. The patch notes have been released and include some much-needed balance changes. There have also been changes made to the questing system. This note stands out above the others:

Quests can now only be completed in Versus mode.

As someone who has spent a great deal of time playing the cooperative game mode, I appreciated that Heroes of the Storm treated that game mode as a valid choice. The MOBA genre is all about competitive PVP, so it's understandable that Heroes of the Storm would like to promote that aspect of the game, but the support for cooperative (PVE) play was a breath of fresh air. Personally, I wouldn't consider reducing the viability of playing Heroes of the Storm as a cooperative game a good thing.

You can find the full patch notes below.

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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm: First account wipe this Tuesday

The first account wipe for the alpha of Heroes of the Storm is coming this Tuesday, April 15. Players in the Alpha have received an email, which you can see after the break. It's working a little differently to the usual wipes, so let's lay out what you're losing and what you're keeping.
  • All purchases made with real money will be unaffected. This does not mean future wipes will be the same.
  • Your account will be reset to level 1
  • All experience points, all quest progress and leveling progress will be reset
  • All in-game gold you've earned, and purchases you've made with that gold, will be reset.
You will also receive some rewards for your hard work, to compensate you for what you're losing:
  • Starting after the wipe on Tuesday, April 15, all players will gain access to every single hero until Thursday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. PDT.
  • You'll get in-game gold as a reward based on your leveling progress:
    • Levels 1 – 19: 10,000 Gold
    • Levels 20 – 39: 30,000 Gold
    • Level 40: 30,000 Gold and an exclusive Heroes of the Storm lanyard
Hit the break for the full email I received.

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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Four new Heroes revealed at PAX East

Heroes of the Storm's PAX East panel has unveiled four new heroes, from left to right, Brightwing, Zagara, Li li and Murky. There's already a trailer for Brightwing, and the Heroes of the Storm official post supplies more information on the new heroes.

While it's surprising that iconic characters which appear on the main screen of the game, such as Chen Stormstout, are not yet in the game, while these other heroes are. Nonetheless, they're really exciting additions, as the official post elucidates their roles in the game we can really see how interesting and varied the hero roles and abilities are thanks to the different playstyle.

Hit the break for their abilities and information.

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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

Heroes of the Storm hero rotation for April 8 - April 14

As occurs every week, the rotation of free-to-play characters in Heroes of the Storm has been updated. This week's heroes include: This rotation mirrors that of the week beginning March 14, which means we've made a full rotation through all currently available heroes. Unless the options are randomized, next week will likely include Arthas, E.T.C., Muradin, Tassadar, the Witch Doctor, and Zeratul. Four new heroes will be announced at PAX East according to Heroes community manager Katie Simpson. Depending on when those heroes will appear in-game, a wrench may be thrown into the rotation fairly soon.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

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